7010 Squadron Update, 18 February 2021
Current Establishment: 94, Strength: 85, Fully Trained Strength: 69
Two members of the Sqn are currently mobilised in support of UK Intelligence requirements.
The Sqn was able to return to our normal working environment at RAF Wyton in Dec 20, a positive end to a challenging year and an opportunity to celebrate with the traditional mince pie and glass of port (this time socially distanced). However, UK COVID conditions since then have obviously been more restrictive and we reverted to “virtual weekends” again in Jan and Feb 21. This is now a tried and tested routine with weekend training exercises submitted by Sqn members, all of which are becoming increasingly challenging and therefore engaging. Attendance figures for Jan and Feb were at 80% and 85% of trained strength respectively – a clear indicator that engagement is holding firm. Hopefully COVID conditions will improve sufficiently for us to return to routine working again in the spring.
Basic Recruit and Intelligence Analyst training has continued as usual and we anticipate a number of new joiners later this year on graduation from the Operational Air and Space Intelligence Course (Reserves).
SAC Amber Guest received the Endeavour Award in Dec in recognition of her sporting success in RAF Women’s Rugby Union and Wakeboarding teams.
Officer Commanding 7010 Squadron
HMS ECHO Navy News
HMS ECHO has been keeping busy conducting pre deployment preps and expanding our survey capability around the UK; over the Christmas period we deployed to the Baltic.
Enhanced Survey Capabilities
Working off Plymouth in the build up to deployment HMS ECHO used a local WW1 wreck to test new and existing survey equipment onboard. The survey suit onboard was revamped and updated in preparation for further survey work later this year. Our survey trials were carried out using the wreck of the SS East Point, a merchant steamer which was torpedoed off Plymouth in March, 1917 by German Submarine U-48. During this period of survey trials HMS ECHO got the rare opportunity to interact with our sister ship HMS ENTERPRISE as she sailed home to Plymouth following a year long deployment in the Far East. Passing through the South Coast Exercise Areas we formed up and carried out an emotional set of OOW Manoeuvres before she proceeded on into an extensive re-fit period.
Covid and Christmas
The Covid19 pandemic has made it a challenging year onboard but we have fought through. Despite social distancing and closed gangway measures we still managed to enjoy the company of a Nathusius’s Pipestrelle Bat. The need for the ships company to isolate together, forming a Covid safe bubble, prior to deploying meant that we enjoyed our Christmas celebrations together. Despite the separation from family and friends we made the most of it in true ECHO style with carol services and Christmas treasure hunts.
Towards the end of December we sailed for the Baltic. HMS ECHO rang in the New Year in a holding box off the Straits of Dover before beginning the transit North. The route to the Baltic took us through the confined waters of the “Great Belt” between Norway and Sweden. The ships company took a moment to relax and enjoy the view as we passed under the Öresund Bridge connecting mainland Sweden with one of it’s larger islands.
Interaction with our NATO Allies
As part of our Operations within the Baltic HMS ECHO was offered the opportunity to join Lithuanian Minehunter KURSIS in conducting a route survey of some of their port approaches. We also conducted a set of OOW manoeuvres which helped to develop the international cooperation between the Royal Navy and one of our NATO regional allies.
HMS ECHO will remain operational in the Baltic for a period before returning to surveying operations in the UK ahead of a maintenance period in the Spring. Covid allowing we are hoping to open the gangway and invite you to catch up on our deployment news later this year. Until our next addition we wish you good health, fair winds and a following sea.
135 Geographical Squadron Royal Engineers
Throughout the various lockdowns, 135 Squadron has conducted Virtual Training on Tuesday nights and some weekends. This virtual training maintained high levels of engagement also enabling the Reserve soldiers vital training preserving operational effectiveness.
In December the squadron held an administration weekend during which the squadron held its annual Christmas function which comprised of a COVID compliant Christmas dinner.
In January the Squadron held a Military Annual Training Tests virtual weekend to ensure all the soldiers passed their mandated tests in military skills, also enabling their Annual Bounty payments.
In February, the squadron intends to hold a Leadership Weekend. This training will develop and assess leadership skills in a semi tactical environment. The weekend will include a conceptual leadership theory panel event with speakers from the military, civilian and sports worlds, and a planning exercise for potential officers.
The squadron also contributed students and driving instructors on Exercise Bogged In Sapper. This was a Plant and Driver training concentration being run at Longmoor Training Area. Driving B and C Class vehicles are vital skills allowing deployment of the 135 Geo Sqn Bulk Replication and Geographic Information Dissemination capabilities. The exercise included cross country driving and driving with Night Vision Goggles.
Future events (subject to COVID restrictions)
In March, a virtual military driving weekend will ensure our soldiers are up to date on the various military and civilian vehicles the squadron holds.
The squadron will conduct various training including technical training, driver training and equipment care training. With the restrictions placed on training because of COVID, this will be an import refresher weekend to get our soldiers up to speed again.
The squadron will deploy on Dismounted Combat Close Combat Trainer (DCCT) marksmanship weekend. This is a simulated firing range with very realistic gas-powered weapons and computer-generated imagery projected on to very large screens. The DCCT training will help prepare the squadron for the live firing weekend in July.
The squadron will deploy to their annual camp in Scotland. The training to be conducted is still in the planning stage, but the camp should prove to be a challenging and enjoyable two weeks covering all aspects of Reserve Army activities, both technical and military.
The squadron will deploy on a live firing ranges weekend. Shooting is a vital basic skill for all soldiers and this weekend will remind and revise the marksmanship of all members of the squadron.